Being a Super Hero
At 19, Lindokuhle Moshani is living his dream of studying medicine at the University of Stellenbosch. Growing up he encountered some bumps along the way - but he knew all along that his road would lead him to where he is now.
Lindokuhle was born in Lower Crossroads – his mother was in Grade 11 when she found out she was pregnant. His father refused to acknowledge that Lindokuhle was his, leaving Lindokuhle’s mom to raise him on her own.
“She would always tell me that she dropped out of school to take care of me and that I must take education seriously because she had to end her education at a young age.”
Lindokuhle says that he has scarce memories of his childhood, but he does remember an incident that happened when he was four-years-old.
“I had never known my father but one day I was at home with my uncle (16) and younger cousin (9), when a man came to the house. I was playing outside when my biological father picked me up and put me in his taxi and took me to his house. I remember that it was not too far from where we were staying.”
“My mother came there with the police to fetch me. This was the first and last time I saw my father. My family have told me that my mom got a restraining order to protect us from him shortly after.” Lindokuhle adds that his mom told him, after some years, that his father had committed suicide two months after the incident.
“I never knew my biological dad so I didn’t feel sad when I heard that he died. I felt bad for him because of the pain he must have felt at the time, to make such a decision. But I did not feel anything from the perspective of losing a parent, because he was never one to me.”
He says that not having a father was never an issue to him, because of the relationship he had with his mother.
“I’m not sure if it’s because she was younger when she had me, but sometimes I felt like she was like a close sister. My mom is very loud and funny, she would even make jokes when something is serious. She has always been there for me, I really feel like I wasn’t without a father because she was both parents to me.”
When Lindokuhle turned five, his mother had another baby and he assumed the role of an older brother.
“I was really excited when I saw my younger brother. I felt like I needed to look after him. I know I was young, but I always felt responsible for him.
At age 8, Lindokuhle’s mother married and he says that a life of moving began.
“When my mom married we moved into a ‘hoekie’. All four of us in one room, it was very cramped. Before, my mother worked, but my stepfather was a security guard and my mother chose to stay at home and look after us. Money was tight though, but I guess my mom had her reasons to decide to stop working.”
Going to school, Lindokuhle says that he found it easy.
“School was great for me, I remember my friends would struggle with certain things and I would help them with their work. I enjoyed it, so it wasn’t a big deal for me. My mother would always joke with me that she was clever at school and that I got my cleverness from her.”
During that time, Lindokuhle’s family expanded with two additional daughters.
“I loved my sisters and I had a really good relationship with my stepfather – I call him my father. He always made time to talk to me and find out how I’m doing. I also felt like he trusted me, like the time he taught me how to drive a car.”
The family moved four more times while Lindokuhle was in primary school.
“Sometimes I got tired of the moving, but the places we stayed in were sometimes better. I’m very happy that I would always stay in the same school.”
When Lindokuhle was nearing the end of primary school, he became influenced by the wrong crowd.
“The kids in the school and neighbourhood would divide into different gangs, the kids from lower Crossroads would be a gang and the kids from the other part would form their gang. I laugh today about how silly it seems. But, back then we were very serious about it.”
Being in the gang only lasted for a year, and came to an end when Lindokuhle was in Grade 7.
“We were carrying knives to school, and fighting a lot with the other gangs in the area. There was one day, when one of our members was not at school. We went looking for him and he was sitting on a wall, playing with this fancy knife. He showed it to us and when I was playing with it I accidentally stabbed my friend in his head. I saw there was blood coming from his head, but to this day I don’t know how deep the cut was.”
“I was shocked, scared that I really hurt him and also terrified that my mom would find out. I tried to help him, but he ran home. The next day we were at school and my friend’s mother told a teacher what had happened. She then called my mother.”
“My mother came to school, and she shouted at me saying that she couldn’t believe I would do something like this. She kept saying that ‘I raised you better than this and you could have really hurt your friend.’ She took me to my friend’s house and made me apologize.”
“This was the end of my short gang life. After it happened I kept thinking that it could have been much worse. The thought that I could have hurt someone badly, really shook me and showed me the seriousness of what we were involved with. When I was younger I wanted to be a super hero and now I was close to becoming the villain.”
Joining High School, Lindokuhle says that his attitude changed and for the rest of his school’s career he was the one who stayed away from the fights at school.
During high school was the time that Lindokuhle’s interest in medicine peaked.
“I remember I was in High School, not sure which grade, when I watched a movie set during apartheid about a boy who needed a new heart. The movie focused on the story of the boy and his family during that time but the part that stuck with me was that his heart was going to be replaced. I was so fascinated about how they could take one heart and replace it with another.”
From that point, Lindokuhle says he kept thinking about how it was done. He remembers talking about it all the time and asking people how did they think doctors did it.
“Nobody was able to give answers to my questions. From that time, I just knew that I wanted to be a cardiologist. I also was excited with the idea of saving lives, growing up I always wanted to be a super hero, I thought being a doctor is the closest I could get to my dream.”
Lindokuhle says that when he was accepted to study medicine at the University of Stellenbosch, he was thrilled but the moment that meant the most to him was when his mother told him that she was proud of him.
“I am at my first year of University and I love it. The only downfall is that I miss being around my younger siblings to protect and guide them, but everything else is wonderful.”
In conclusion, Lindokuhle says: “Many of us were once naughty, but I made a choice to change. I’ve been called soft because I was always the one to step away from a fight, but I’m okay with that. I learned that being strong is having the courage to walk away when your peers are calling you a coward for not doing what they want you to do. I really encourage all those who are in school to walk away from situations that are going to harm them and others. After all it is much better to be the super hero than the villain.”
Lindokuhle is a Leaders’ Quest Alumnus, Leaders’ Quest in an intervention offered by Salesian Life Choices.